Computer Graphics World

Winter 2019

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34 cgw w i n t e r 2 0 1 9 They're (still) creepy and they're kooky, Mysterious and spooky, They're altogether ooky, The Addams Family. Many grew up singing this earworm jingle, the theme song from The Addams Family television show, which aired from 1964– 1966, in black and white, no less. Transcend- ing various types of media, this gruesomely fictional family first made its introduction as a cartoon from artist Charles Addams in The New Yorker. Following the live-action TV se- ries, The Addams Family continued its pres- ence (in live-action and 2D animated form) across television and film; the franchise even spurred two musicals and a video game. Its latest incarnation? A 3D computer-generat- ed feature film from MGM. "CGI gives us the chance to take these really awesome single-panel vignettes and turn them into whole shots and sequences, and give a fuller existence to The Addams Family that is difficult to do in a single-pan- el comic," says Laura Brousseau, head of lighting at Cinesite Animation (Vancouver), which brought this latest iteration to life on the big screen with assistance from its studio in Montreal. The film contains 1,173 shots – 989 from Cinesite Vancouver and 184 from Cinesite Montreal. Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, the ghoulish animated feature hit theaters in October. …They really are a scream This latest resurrection maintains the spot- light on the main characters: an eccentric, wealthy clan of macabre characters who are unaware that others find their behavior peculiar and frightening. This includes father Gomez, mother Morticia, kids Wednes- day and Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Cousin Itt, Grandma, and Lurch the butler. The film has the family settling into their new home in New Jersey, but they find themselves at odds with reality-TV host Margaux Needler, who is aghast at the impact Wednesday's friendship has on her daughter, Parker. "There's the main family that everyone knows, and then there's a couple additional surprises in there that some may not even know are part of the original cast of char- acters," Brousseau says. "And all over the house there's a lot of paintings and homage to Chas Addams' original work." The design of the main characters is based off the original comics, and everything else in the film is based on those same shapes and designs – from the new characters to pieces of furniture and peculiar objects. The lead characters vary greatly in size (from the severed hand Thing to the tower- ing butler Lurch, and everything in between), with varying skin tones. Each presented different challenges – whether that involved hair, costume, animation, lighting, or shading. Three family members in particular stood out: Morticia, Margaux and Cousin Itt. Wife Morticia is very tall and thin, with a somewhat skeletal facial structure. "She is very slender, with this beauty and elegance. We always wanted her to look beautiful, but also had to make sure her incisive yet subtle personality was reflected," says Brousseau. To this end, the group used a film noir-esque range of techniques to light her: a very so eye light, combined with her red lips and sleek, shiny, black hair. And while taking well-known characters from single-frame drawings in a comic panel and then building a whole personality and style to their movement and performance is always difficult, it was made even more challenging when it came to this charac- ter. For instance, Morticia wears a long, tight dress that restricts her model's leg movements. On top of that, the "moving" tentacles on the edge of her dress posed even more difficulty for the animators. "There is very strategic placement of her in the film; she goes up and down the stairs in camera only when it's really necessary," says Brousseau. "And you will see those tentacles sort of glide and move with her and mimic her general way of walking." Also, Morticia and Wednesday have distinct personalities whereby they don't oen emote in an exaggerated way and have a more deadpan way of speaking, and yet audiences have to both understand their emotions, the intensity of such, and the story. Thus, animators had to work hard to get those performances just right. TV host Margaux's difficulty stemmed from her big, blonde hair. "If she pushed her head back or moved it forward, the hair would get in the way. Also, we would have a lot of issues with the penetration of the geometry with her large, round, dangling earrings or her collar," says Neil Eskuri, visual effects supervisor. Meanwhile, the hairy creature Cousin Itt was covered head to toe in long strands of SNAP! CINESITE ANIMATION RESURRECTS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN A NEW MEDIUM: CGI BY KAREN MOLTENBREY IN CONTRAST TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, THE ADDAMS' WORLD IS DARK. Images ©2019 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Inc.

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